Rankings

<p>While all rankings should be taken with a large grain of salt, over the past 2 years Middlebury has declined quite a bit in the Princeton Review and Forbes rankings (17 to 40). Any reason??</p>

<p>Just take a look at the methodologies and you should have your answer. PR rankings are based on students surveys (with no details provided about how many responded, how they were distributed, etc.). PR rankings swing wildly every year, probably because response rates change, and the results can easily be manipulated by the groups filling out the surveys (“hey guys, if everyone says that our school has a beautiful campus, we’ll be #1 in that category—cool!”).</p>

<p>The Forbes rankings, which focus more on financial factors, are based on such unscientific sources as ratemyprofessors.com and payscale.com. In fact, the Forbes rankings were prepared by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a Washington, D.C. think tank founded by Ohio University economist Richard Vedder. </p>

<p>Here is the Forbes methodology: <a href="http://centerforcollegeaffordability.org/uploads/2011_Methodology.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://centerforcollegeaffordability.org/uploads/2011_Methodology.pdf&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Some of these criteria are laughable (e.g., number of alumni listed in “Who’s Who in America”!). Schools that send a lot of graduates to organizations like Teach for America, the Peace Corps, or nonprofits are penalized because their grads don’t make as much as hedge fund managers.</p>

<p>I wouldn't be too worried.</p>

<p>Forbes</a> uses questionable methodology in rankings | Journal and Courier | jconline.com</p>

<p>Forbes</a> College Rankings The Full Review - college-rankings - College Confidential</p>

<p>Rankings DEFINITELY should be taken with a grain of salt. I agree completely with Arcadia. If you need a ranking, the Holy Grail of rankings, USN&WR College rankings have moved Midd up the rankings over the years and it's been sitting at #4 for the past couple years. Who knows where Midd will be this year, but it's consistently considered one of the best Colleges in America. If anything the quality of education has improved over the years (if only by good luck) because before the crash they invested a fortune in their infrastructure. Now, in light of the crash, their competitors can't afford to make those same investments.</p>

<p>And let's be honest, once you're in 1) the workplace or 2) graduate/professional school, where you attended undergraduate school matters very little relative to your current achievements (a top neurosurgical residency wants to know how you did in medical school, could care less whether you went to Midd, Yale, USC or Oberlin). Great educations are to be had at a number of top LACs and universities, and rankings (except maybe in general tiers) are about as useful as ranking Einstein above Isaac Newton, or Bach above Mozart, Beatles over Pink Floyd.</p>

<p>All the above are good points. </p>

<p>But looking at the different ranking systems out there does give an overall impression about a school, as well as trends, and the increasingly high rankings Middlebury had been receiving have played a role in its rise to prominence over the past few decades.</p>

<p>Taking the Princeton Review and comparing the current list to 2011 / 2010 / 2009, you’ll notice that Middlebury has dropped off the list entirely in several categories: best campus food, best career services, dorms like palaces, best athletic facilities, and best quality of life. </p>

<p>So I wonder if current students or those familiar with the campus have noticed any recent decline in the food (admittedly not a reason to select a colleges) , career services, quality of life, administration, etc.</p>

<p>You know what other schools aren't on those lists? Our peer schools. Not one of our peer schools is listed in Best career services, or best athletic facilities. In terms of best food, only Bowdoin (#2) and Colby (#9) are listed. In terms of Quality of Life, only Bowdoin (#2), Claremont McKenna (#6), Dartmouth (#7), Davidson (#8), and Brown (#11) are listed. Notably absent, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Amherst, Williams, and Swarthmore. Finally, in Dorms like palaces, Bowdoin (#7), Amherst (#11), Pomona (#16), and Dartmouth (#18) are the only peer schools listed. </p>

<p>Does that mean that Williams, Amherst, and Swarthmore should be concerned about their lack of ranking in most of these lists? </p>

<p>These lists are very subjective and change dramatically from year to year. It's important to remember that Middlebury is still among the best schools in the country and that's not changing.</p>

<p>"Not one of our peer schools is listed in Best career services"</p>

<h1>5 Barnard</h1>

<h1>6 Claremont Mckenna</h1>

<p>@urbanslaughter</p>

<p>Middlebury's position in the most mentioned college ranking lists has declined. You responded by saying:</p>

<p>"These lists are very subjective and change dramatically from year to year. It's important to remember that Middlebury is still among the best schools in the country and that's not changing."</p>

<p>Was that the same attitude you held when Middlebury was ranked higher?</p>

<p>While your statement may be true that Middlebury is still among the best (and I agree with you), what do you base this very subjective opinion on? I think that is what was being sought by the initial poster.</p>

<p>
[quote]
"Not one of our peer schools is listed in Best career services"</p>

<h1>5 Barnard</h1>

<h1>6 Claremont Mckenna

[/quote]
</h1>

<p>In urbanslaughters defense, neither of those schools are in Middlebury's self-designated peer comparison group (although both certainly are comparable schools).</p>

<p>Middlebury</a> College's Standard Comparison Group | Middlebury</p>

<p>At least 9 of Midd's self-designated peers really aren't in the same class at all ( I won't risk indicating which ones).</p>

<p>^Dad2</p>

<p>Does this mean that schools you perceive as inferior to Middlebury aren't legitimate comparisons but schools that are superior to Middlebury are? What if those superior schools argued to be excluded from any comparison with Middlebury? What criteria are you using to make these judgments?</p>

<p>English, first I tried responding to the original posters question by explaining my concerns with Forbes' ranking. Then I pointed out the fallacy of his logic of suggesting that Middlebury's position on PR ranking (in decline) was reason for concern. The other schools, against which we position ourselves for common students, tend not to be prominently ranked in PR either. In addition, PR has always been based on student reports (which are inherently subjective and therefore less likely to indicate objective rise or decline in quality). I feel I've addressed both of the poster's issues. </p>

<p>And yes, that was my attitude when Midd was ranked more highly. But I'm not sure what my prior attitude has to do with answering the poster's question. Relevance goes both ways.</p>

<p>Dad, at most I was only able to count 7 that were not in the same class, and that was really stretching it . . . but I guess that's why these rankings are kind of silly.</p>

<p>urbanslaughter</p>

<p>I don't think any of us have difficulty thinking of some schools as better than others. I further think that we all tend to rank schools although some of us may do it in tiers as opposed to strict hierarchies. There are many things wrong with all of the current ranking systems, especially those loaded with subjective information. How can we come up with a better alternative?</p>

<p>I actually like the underlying model CC uses for students to find schools. Unfortunately, I disagree with many of the variables used as well as the categories they break down into for some of the variables.</p>

<p>It is easy to laugh off the ratings but thousands of students are using them every year. Parents often treat them as absolute standards. If they have nothing else to go by, what would you expect them to do? Is there a useful (realistic) alternative?</p>

<p>If, for example, I aspired to be an engineer this becomes a more straight forward problem. Even if I hope to one day become a lawyer, there would seem to be very useful measures that might apply. But what is I am completely undecided when I apply or attend college. How could "success" be assessed? Would it be my success or the school's or both?</p>

<p>My S will start college in a few weeks. He used 8 criteria to select the colleges he applied to. None of the 8 had anything to do with any of the rankings. Since he is essentially undecided about what he hopes to become, he defined four potential majors. If a college offered all four, he next tried to determine the level of academic excellence in these four specific areas. Using this and his other criteria, he is now very pleased to be going to Haverford. When this process began, I honestly knew almost nothing about the school. We visited four times and he spent two weekends with current students. When the majority of our friends learned where he was going, there was very little reaction. When Forbes ranked Haverford 7th, our phone rang off the hook. Rankings matter. For whom and for what reasons is open to question.</p>

<p>Arcadia, I don't want to get overly picky, but Urbanslaughter listed CMC as a peer school in his post and then mistakenly said there were no peer schools listed in "best career services". Just wanted to correct the record.</p>

<p>I came upon these comments in another thread but thought they were very appropriate for this discussion. The name of the college mentioned has been replaced with Xs since the particular school is not the issue.</p>

<p>from HC Alum</p>

<p>I think though these rankings are somewhat useful when aggregated together like a Venn diagram. All rankings have their limits and may only capture one facet of “quality” but certain schools are consistently in the top 10-20 in US News, Newsweek, Forbes, WSJ, Atlantic monthly, PhD rankings, HHMI/NSF funding, ect… and XXXXX is one of them. I’ve seen some other threads with this topic where people are defensive, irked and argue over this ranking but when you consider that there are about 2500 undergrad schools in the US, it puts into perspective how little a few rungs difference at the top matter or should matter for any ranking.</p>